The long-running saga of Tiffany's (TIF) acquisition by LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (LVMUY 2.39%) is finally over as the luxury design house announced today it has finally completed the deal for the high-end jeweler. And LVMH wasted no time upsetting the order of things, immediately moving to install its own executives at Tiffany.
Anthony Ledru, a Louis Vuitton senior executive, is CEO at Tiffany, effective today. Michael Burke, current CEO and chairman at LYMH, will become chairman of Tiffany. And the second-oldest son of LVMH head Bernard Arnault, Alexandre Arnault, will take over as Tiffany's executive vice president for product and communication. Two other Tiffany executives will exit the company soon after.
A diamond in the rough
The acquisition began over a year ago and was on pace for a smooth merger, but the COVID-19 pandemic struck, sending the deal spiraling into uncertainty.
Initially LVMH said it wouldn't try to buy Tiffany at less than the original offer price, $135 per share (or $16 billion). But as the crisis wore on and valuations were trashed, the relationship became icier.
LVMH tried to negotiate a lower price, saying the jeweler unnecessarily closed its retail stores. Wanting to force the deal to close, Tiffany eventually sued its suitor, accusing it of slow-walking the acquisition. Both sides eventually agreed on a $425 million discount on the price, or $131.50 per share.
Calling Tiffany an "iconic brand," Bernard Arnault said, "We are optimistic about Tiffany's ability to accelerate its growth, innovate, and remain at the forefront of our discerning customers' most cherished life achievements and memories."
Tiffany's last earnings report in November showed sales had largely recovered, falling just 1% year over year, while crossing the billion-dollar threshold once more.